tags: , Press Releases

JD Vance Continues to Peddle Extreme White Supremacy Conspiracy Theories and Mislead Americans on the Opioid Crisis

Share This:

Washington D.C. – A piece yesterday from the Associated Press, “Vance’s anti-drug charity enlisted doctor echoing Big Pharma,” is a strong indictment of the failures and hypocrisy of Ohio Senate Republican nominee J.D. Vance’s efforts to make the opioid crisis into a campaign issue. The Hillbilly Elegy author has aggressively tried to tie fentanyl and other opioid deaths to President Biden, implying a liberal plot to “to kill a bunch of MAGA voters in the middle of the heartland,” while also, falsely, linking immigrants and asylum seekers to the importation of opioids. In keeping with other GOP candidates and elected officials, Vance would like to keep the attention on his false attacks on Biden’s alleged “open borders” policy, on the uptick in fentanyl seizures at the border and the arrests/expulsion of high numbers of migrants seeking asylum. 

However a review of the facts, coupled with Vance’s ties to Big Pharma reveal the shallowness of his attacks and the misdirection he is trying to push on voters. One aspect of his strategy is to tout the creation of a charity to address the opioid crisis in rural Ohio. AP reports: 

An AP review found that [Vance’s] charity’s most notable accomplishment — sending an addiction specialist to Ohio’s Appalachian region for a yearlong residency — was tainted by ties among the doctor, the institute that employed her and Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin.

[…] Documents and emails obtained by ProPublica for a 2019 investigation found that [Dr. Sally] Satel, a senior fellow at AEI, sometimes cited Purdue-funded studies and doctors in her articles on addiction for major news outlets and occasionally shared drafts of the pieces with Purdue officials in advance, including on occasions in 2004 and 2016. Over the years, according to the report, AEI received regular $50,000 donations and other financial support from Purdue totaling $800,000.

[…] Satel’s public remarks suggested she remained as convinced as ever that addiction stems from combined behavioral and environmental forces — not the documented overprescribing and aggressive marketing of OxyContin and other opioids that helped families and state, local and tribal governments ultimately secure a $6 billion national settlement against Purdue in March.” 

The lack of true commitment to addressing the opioid crisis, combined with his repeated lies tying the rise in fentanyl to immigration and his consistent use of racist conspiracy theories, highlight how Vance has zero credibility on these issues. Rather than put forward realistic solutions or identify real vulnerabilities that are contributing to the opioid crisis that is killing Americans at a rate of more than 100,000 a year, Vance is playing politics.

At America’s Voice, we have been closely tracking the Vance campaign, the misdirection strategy employed by Republican candidates and office holders on fentanyl and other opioids, and the way Republicans are driving racist, white nationalist talking points about a border “invasion.”

Below are excerpts from previous comments America’s Voice has made on Vance’s campaign and the the opioid issue, followed by a quote from our Political Director and ad tracker, Zachary Mueller:

A Blog Post by America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller following JD Vance’s primary victory in May “J.D. Vance: The Republican Senate Candidate Running on Racist Conspiracy Theories in Ohio”

“Once a prominent “never-Trumper,” Vance landed an endorsement from Donald Trump in the final weeks of the primary. Vance’s latest conversion to die-hard MAGA came as soon as he started to campaign for the seat last year picking up support from the most prominent voices on the radicalized right throughout his campaign. And like them, Vance fully embraced the absurd and deadly conspiracy theories about a migrant “invasion” and the “great replacement.”

[…]This rhetoric around “invasion” is inextricably tied into the white nationalist ideas of a “great replacement,” which research from the University of Chicago found was the “most important driver of the insurrectionist movement” that sparked the invasion of the U.S. Capitol by an angry mob in January 2021. Vance ran on these ideas and surrounded himself with others who amplified them. 

[…]Vance suggested that President Joe Biden is intentionally allowing fentanyl to enter the U.S. through the southern border to kill off MAGA voters. ‘If you wanted to kill a bunch of MAGA voters in the middle of the heartland, how better than to target them and their kids with this deadly fentanyl?’ Vance then said, ‘It’s like Joe Biden wants to punish the people who didn’t vote for him and opening up the floodgates to the border is one way to do it.’ The New York Times reported that Vance made the remarks ‘with a straight face but no evidence,” citing the fact that “fentanyl deaths did rise sharply in 2021, but they rose sharply in 2020 as well.’”

As America’s Voice said in a statement on August 11 (“Another Republican Nativist Ploy to Tie Immigration and Fentanyl; Democrats Should Engage and Call Out the Lies”): 

 Republican candidates are cynically trying to turn the opioid crisis and the urgent problem of fentanyl-induced overdose deaths into a nativist political attack. The issues around fentanyl and the opioid crisis are expansive and multi-dimensional: It is a healthcare issue, an international trade issue, a corporate accountability issue, and a criminal syndicate issue. The one thing it is not is an immigration issue. But that is precisely where Republican candidates are putting their emphasis, falsely blaming the migrants seeking asylum at the border.

[…]Case in point is Republican Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who used conversations about opioid addiction to launch his political career and has made a false connection between fentanyl and migrants an essential piece of his campaign. Vance and his deep-pocketed allies have run numerous ads on the topic,  while Vance has even gone so far as to suggest that President Joe Biden has intentionally allowed fentanyl to enter the U.S. through the southern border to kill off MAGA voters. But Vance’s own work on the opioid crisis is just as fraudulent as his attack line, with his non-profit little more than a front to funnel money to his political allies.

According to Zachary Mueller, Political Director for America’s Voice: 

Despite what J.D. Vance and other Republican candidates and lawmakers would have us believe, the fentanyl and opioid crisis is not an immigration issue. The latest reporting is more evidence that Vance has no credibility on the issue, which is likely why he turned to falsely blaming immigrants for the rise of overdose deaths. All the while adding more fuel on the fire of the dangerous lie that immigrants are ‘invaders.’ 

Rather than take the problem seriously and work to enact policies that would actually address the urgent opioid crisis, save lives and stand up to Big Pharma, Republicans, like Vance, would rather peddle lies, and work to divide and distract voters from the actual villains in this story. Republicans are muddying the waters on these issues with nativist fictions, which opens up a clear opportunity for Democrats to articulate clear, realistic strategies to address the opioid crisis, which Democrats generally support and Republicans generally oppose. To address fentanyl and opioid overdoses, we need solutions focused on where the drugs are actually coming from and how to reduce America’s demand for them, not on political strategies to score points off of the suffering that opioids have wrought. 

Check out Republicans’ anti-immigrant ads at the America’s Voice GOP Ad Tracker: http://gopadtracker.com